Box Office Final: “Paranormal Activity 3” Re-Writes History…

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"Paranormal Activity 3" scored the biggest horror movie opening of all time.

“Paranormal Activity 3″‘s victory at the weekend’s box office was about as easy and obvious a prediction as anyone could make.  The horror movie trilogy, which effectively silenced the “Saw” franchise and rekindled a “found-footage” horror film phenomenon in the last few years, not only opened at #1 this past weekend, but decidedly re-wrote the record books at the same time.  With a total opening weekend of $52.6 million, “Paranormal Activity 3” saw an opening of historic proportions.

How many records did “PA3” actually break?  Does this have the legs to be a massive success?  How profitable is it already?  Did anyone care about some Mighty Macs, Musketeers, or buffoonery from an English spy?  Found out the answers to all of these questions and a ton more from the weekend that was…after the cut!

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3

Where do we even begin?  Standing as the only franchise in recent memory which causes a great number of audience members to devolve into a Pavlovian-style response at a teaser or even a trailer, “Paranormal Activity 3” delivered a massive and substantial $52.6 million start domestically.  Globally, with openings totaling $26.0 million amassed in 50 different countries, the film has already banked $81.5 million in 3 days, on a budget of just $5 million!  The Return-on-Investment from those figures is an unfathomable 1,530% already.

Comparatively, “Paranormal Activity 2” recouped 5,817% ROI, while the first film stands as the most profitable film of all time.  Shot for $15k, the initial “Paranormal Activity” grossed $193.8 million worldwide, for an ROI of 1,288,939%

Jessica Tyler Brown, "Paranormal Activity 3" (Paramount Pictures)

“Paranormal Activity 3” now owns two distinctive records.  First, “PA3” delivered the biggest opening ever for a horror film, eclipsing the record set in May 2004 when “Van Helsing” opened with $51.7 million.  And, “PA3” has the distinction of having the biggest Fall movie opening of all time (defined as films opening in September and October).  “PA3” eclipsed that record, set in October 2010 with “Jackass 3D”, which set sail with $50.4 million.  Driven largely by older teens and 20-somethings, Paramount’s research indicated that the film drew strong numbers, for the first time, with older audiences in the 35-54 demographic.  Paramount attributed the unexpected response from an older viewing audience largely because of the positive reviews the film received leading up to Friday’s release date.

Tracking looked strong for the film and on the critical front, the Rotten Tomatoes TomatoMeter initially hovered in the upper 80’s for much of the week, until coming to rest at 71% by the close of the weekend.  The buzz was strong and the audience was clearly anticipating another thrill ride and started things off with an $8.0 million take from midnight screenings, best in the series thus far.  Midnight-plus-Friday screenings contributed $26 million to the final sum, or essentially 50% of the entire weekend’s gross.  Some view this as impressive and others view this as a sign that the film will dissolve into white noise very quickly.

On the contrary, a troubling element of the film’s opening night bonanza of cash and excitement came in the CinemaScore polling, which delivered a problematic “C+” grade from those in attendance.  The film’s crazed and manic final 15 minutes apparently polarized audience members and some research did indicate that for some fans of the series, the film’s trademark time stamp, and branded Night-and-Date title cards, simply provided much of the same repetitiveness of the first two films.  Also, some people were dismayed that hardly any of the trailered pre-release footage even made it into the final film.  No matter, directors Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost (“Catfish”) impressed a great number of viewers, including yours truly, and may end up with the largest grossing film yet in the franchise.

Robert Hamer shockingly fell short in his prediction of “Paranormal Activity 3”, projecting an opening of $40-$45 million.

A disappointing start angered star Milla Jovovich...

THE THREE MUSKETEERS

Panned by most critics, the remake of “The Three Musketeers” delivered a disappointing $8.7 million start, at 3,017 sites, for a poor per screen average of $2,875.  Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, and featuring Orlando Bloom (!), Logan Lerman, and Anderson’s wife, Milla Jovovich, Anderson’s film is somewhere around the 11th or 12th or 53rd cinematic remake of Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel.  Post-converted into 3D, audiences were largely indifferent to the possibility of seeing a modernized swashbuckling adventure playing out right in front of their faces.

Not helping matters in any way, shape, or form is the assault that Jovovich levied at Summit Entertainment and its PR efforts.  Going on Twitter, Jovovich, while professing how proud she was of the film and praising all who worked on it, delivered some incendiary tweets such as:

  • “Also, “3 musketeers” opens in the US 2night! Do you think ppl know abt the movie? Ask your friends! Do they know it’s a fun family film?”
  • “Are “summit” promoting it as a family adventure movie? Or are they resting on their laurels from “twilight” n making no effort? Let me know!”
  • I think “summit” hve swept “3 Musketeers”, a grt family adventure film, under the rug in the US. Shame on them. SHAME ON YOU “SUMMIT”.
  • “It’s the opposite of PA3. One is horror. The other is grt 4 families n kids! That’s NOT HOW IT’S BEEN PROMOTED.”

Summit Entertainment were optimistic that the film could score in the low-to-mid-teens after worldwide grosses had predated the North American release to the tune of $64.4 million.  Budgeted for $80 million, the film is close to profitable with worldwide grosses assumed, but domestically the film is only on pace to generate about $22-$25 million.  Another disappointment for a studio who can rarely score strong with a film not named “Twilight”.

Robert Hamer successfully pegged “The Three Musketeers”‘, projecting a start of $7-$12 million.

Poor Rowan...

JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN

A huge hit overseas, to the tune of $104.5 million already in the days leading up to its North American debut, “Johnny English Reborn” is a sequel featuring Rowan Atkinson’s reprising his slapstick, bumbling, super agent routine from the initial 2003 film.  Domestically, no one cared and even Universal were aware of this fact, placing the film in a shallow 1,552 locations and viewing any domestic gross as simply gravy on the meal.  Shot for $45 million, this film has already proved a big success for the studio, and essentially Universal were simply hoping to see grosses similar to the 2003 “Johnny English”, which cleared $28 million in North America.

Critics were not amused either, and those paying customers who did opt to go see it gave the film a palatable “B” to CinemaScore on opening night.  Starting with $3.8 million, the film will end up somewhere in the neighborhood of $12-$14 million when its theatrical run is complete and Rowan Atkinson will remain a big star everywhere but in the States.

Robert Hamer overestimated the North American opening of the “Johnny English” global phenomenon, projecting the film would land between $5-$10 million.

Led by Elizabeth Olsen, "Martha Marcy May Marlene" delivered a strong debut...

MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE

Oscar buzz has been swirling for months around “Martha Marcy May Marlene”, a debut feature for director Sean Durkin and lead actress Elizabeth Olsen.  After being scooped up by Fox Searchlight, the film was rolled out city-by-city to festivals big and small, and regionally with critical previews going up almost 2 months before release date.  Critics were enamored with it, Olsen has been a strong and likely Best Actress nominee since the film’s premiere and comparisons have been drawn to last year’s “Winter’s Bone”, which overcame its small, independent status to go all the way to 4 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Jennifer Lawrence’s Best Actress nod and a Best Supporting Actor nomination for one of the star’s of this film, John Hawkes.

In front of audiences, who were reportedly sold out in most exhibitions, “Martha” delivered one of the top per-screen averages of 2011, banking a staggering $138k at just 4 locations.  Expecting big, the numbers were bigger, and Fox Searchlight have reportedly widened their Oscar scope, with reports detailing that the studio feels Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and a second consecutive Hawkes Supporting Actor nod could be in play.  Fox Searchlight are championing the film and widening it week-by-week.  Critics and audiences seem aligned here and the film, shot for less than $1 million, could be a strong breakout success for all involved.

Ten more markets will receive the film, according to a report by Indiewire, and if the film performs well, “Martha Marcy May Marlene” may be in multiple locations and cities within a few more weeks.

OTHER INDIES

Faith-based sports drama “The Mighty Macs” sat on a shelf for almost three years before seeing its big screen dreams become a reality.  Perhaps, those dreams are now nightmares, as upstart newcomers Quaker Media saw their first foray into theatrical distribution (in a partnership with Freestyle Releasing), go down in flames.  Even with a push to faith-based film fans and church organizations, and a custom-made G rating from the MPAA, “The Mighty Macs” couldn’t generate even $1,000 per screen average.  Opening on 975 screens, “The Mighty Macs” grossed a dismal $963k.  While it is unclear how much Quaker Media is on the hook for the $7 million production, the film is not well-received and will need strong DVD/VOD totals to make it a worthwhile endeavor.

Robert predicted “The Mighty Macs” would net $3-$8 million in its opening weekend…

"Margin Call" surprised pundits with an impressive start (Roadside Attractions)

Opening concurrently in theaters and through Video On Demand, the present-day financial crisis thriller “Margin Call” was impressive in its first frame.  Landing in 20th place, at a mere 56 sites, Roadside Attractions saw $562k in total receipts and a robust $10,034 per screen average.  In one New York location, “Margin Call” broke the house record for largest weekend take ever and to meet demand, the theater tacked on an additional screening.  One of the drawbacks to VOD is that the figures are not an instantaneous as box office totals are and so Roadside Attractions will not know how well the film performed in that regard until the following weekend.  For that second weekend, however, the film moves from 56 sites to more than 130 locations and Roadside are enthusiastic that they have a surprise sleeper for the fall.

“Take Shelter” built on strong word-of-mouth, and a heightened presence in the media, and saw another sizable increase in ticket sales in its fourth weekend.  Rising 55.8%, “Take Shelter” rode its recent Gotham Award nominations to $181k, and a total gross of $503k thus far.  Although per screen totals are dipping, Sony Pictures Classics are confident that the film will sustain itself and earn back its $5 million production budget and are hopeful that Michael Shannon can emerge as an Oscar contender for Best Actor.

Perhaps those anticipated “Mighty Macs” audiences opted for a repeat viewing of “Courageous” or went out of their way to find the Emilio Estevez-directed “The Way”, which became easier to find in 283 locations and saw business cascade upwards to the tune of 102%.  Clearing $1 million in box office receipts, this film not only has audiences taken by its inspirational story of a man going on a life-changing pilgrimage, but critics are equally as impressed with the film and the performance by Martin Sheen.

"The Afflicted" (Nocturnal Features)

After delivering a per screen average similar to this week’s totals for “Martha Marcy May Marlene”, Pedro Almodovar’s “The Skin I Live In” dipped notably in that regard, but in its move from 6 sites to 21 locations, the film still generated a healthy $11,771 per screen total and a weekend haul of $247k.  With receipts totaling $555k thus far, the film is still Almodovar’s fastest grossing domestic film release to date.

“Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey”, which takes a unique look at the man behind the famous Sesame Street character, saw an awesome $23k start playing at New York’s IFC theater.

After seeing “Filth To Ashes, Flesh To Dust” turn its $18k production into a film grossing more than $200k thus far, Nocturnal Features debuted “The Afflicted”, starring Leslie Easterbrook (!) and Kane Hooder (!!), to a healthy $90k start.  Nocturnal has a little more work to do on this $180k production to see a profit.  But seriously, Leslie Easterbrook and Kane Hodder together for the first time?!?!  Yes, please!

THE MILLION DOLLAR CLUB

14 films grossed more than $1 million this weekend, a decrease from an impressive 17 films last weekend. The steepest decline amongst them was “The Thing”, which lost almost its entire interested audience to “Paranormal Activity 3”, to the tune of a 63.9% decline.

No other films within the Top 10 dropped more than 33%, a fantastic sign that audiences are liking what their options are right now.  The weekend’s best holdover within the Top 10 was “Moneyball”, which dipped just 27.0% and has a nice 31-day sum of $63.6 million.  “Courageous” fell to 11th place but only shed 24.5% and has a 24-day total of $25.0 million on a $2 million production budget.

ON THEIR WAY TO HOME VIDEO…

After 87 long and tortured days, big-budget misfire “Cowboys And Aliens” cleared $100m domestically.  The Daniel Craig/Harrison Ford hybrid science-fiction/western arrives on home video December 6.

“Crazy, Stupid, Love.” moved into the second circuit and saw business jump up 81.7% and its total gross climb over $83 million.  The ensemble romantic dramedy hits home video next week on November 1.

“Fright Night” saw an unbelievable swell in business of 696.2% when it returned in second-run theaters.  Unfortunately, that only meant a dismal $617 per screen average and a weekend take of $74k.  The $18.2 million grossing vampire film staggers home on December 13.

THE WEEKEND BREAKDOWN

#1 Movie Of The Weekend: “PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3” (Paramount), earned $52.6 million in its debut weekend.

Largest Per-Screen Average (50+ Sites): “PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3” (Paramount), $15,829 at 3,321 locations for a total gross of $52.6 million.

Smallest Per-Screen Average (50+ Sites): “KILLER ELITE” (Open Roads Films), $287 at 1,431 locations for a weekend take of $410k.   Total gross stands at $24.6 million in 31 days time.

Largest % Increase (50+ Sites): “FRIGHT NIGHT” (Buena Vista), Increased 696.2% with an increase in theaters from 5 theaters to 120.

Largest % Decrease (50+ Sites): “WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER?” (Universal), Decreased 74.3% with a reduction in one theater from 1,282 to 343.

Now Profitable – Domestic v. Production Budget:

  • “Paranormal Activity 3” ($52.6 million / $5 million budget)
  • “Footloose” ($30.4 million / $24 million budget)

TOP 40 MOST ATTENDED FILMS (10/14/11 – 10/16/11)
Dollar figures are listed in millions.

RK

FILM

WKND

TOTAL

% +/-

DAYS

1

Paranormal Activity 3

52.6

52.6

NEW

3

2

Real Steel

10.8

66.7

-33.6

17

3

Footloose

10.4

30.4

-33.5

10

4

The Three Musketeers

8.7

8.7

NEW

3

5

The Ides Of March

4.9

29.1

-31.7

17

6

Dolphin Tale

4.2

64.4

-32.3

31

7

Moneyball

4.0

63.6

-27.0

31

8

Johnny English Reborn

3.8

3.8

NEW

3

9

The Thing

3.1

14.0

-63.9

10

10

50/50

2.8

28.8

-33.4

24

11

Courageous

2.5

25.0

-24.5

24

12

A Big Year

1.7

6.0

-48.3

10

13

The Lion King 3D

1.3

92.6 /421.2

-55.1

38/340

14

Dream House

1.1

20.2

-54.1

24

15

The Mighty Macs

.963

.963

NEW

3

16

Contagion

.853

73.5

-52.9

45

17

The Help

.713

166.2

-39.9

75

18

Drive

.609

33.2

-45.5

38

19

Abduction

.581

26.8

-59.3

31

20

Margin Call

.562

.562

NEW

3

21

The Way

.507

1.0

+102.0

17

22

Killer Elite

.410

24.6

-60.2

31

23

The Smurfs

.387

140.6

-12.1

87

24

What’s Your Number?

.294

13.7

-74.3

24

25

The Skin I Live In

.247

.555

+10.8

10

26

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

.239

83.6

+81.7

87

27

Rise Of Planet Of The Apes

.237

175.6

-0.5

80

28

Take Shelter

.181

.503

+55.8

24

29

Harry Potter/Hallows Part 2

.1807

380.5

-36.5

101

30

Captain America…

.161

176.4

-31.1

94

31

Cars 2

.144

191.0

-32.0

122

32

Martha Marcy May Marlene

.138

.138

NEW

3

33

Colombiana

.118

36.5

+16.8

59

34

Kevin Hart: Laugh At My Pain

.112

7.6

-59.1

45

35

The Guard

.111

5.0

+4.1

87

36

Midnight In Paris

.109

55.3

-15.6

157

37

Spy Kids: All Time In World

.107

38.2

-46.7

66

38

The Debt

.101

31.1

-41.5

54

39

Cowboys & Aliens

.95

100.1

-32.3

87

40

Born To Be Wild IMAX

.92

13.7

-5.2

199